Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Party on the Farm

Every year when it comes time to plan my kids' birthday celebrations, I think "what can I do that will be the least amount of work for me and lots of fun for them." While that sounds rather lazy, I have found that everyone enjoys themselves more when no one is stressed. And by no one I mean me! If I can avoid a cooking, cleaning, decorating frenzy that causes me to spend less time with my kids and to snap at my husband then I go for it. I have also found that combining my kids' parties has been great. Matthew and Caroline's birthdays are a month apart, and they basically have the same friends. I don't know how this will work next year when Lily is old enough to have a party, but for this year it was great.

So back in December we bought our Christmas tree from a local farm in town. When I was talking to the family selling the trees, they mentioned that they use the farm for field trips and birthday parties. I filed this in the "less work more fun party" section of my brain, and a few months ago I emailed the wonderful Callie from Parker's Porkers and asked her for some more details. She invited me out to the farm to have a look around (during the day this time) and tell me how the party would go. I was sold!

We planned the party for Saturday afternoon, late enough that little ones could nap first and hopefully getting a little less sun than a morning or lunchtime party would bring. The weather on Saturday was absolutely gorgeous! The high was only in the low 80's and there was a nice breeze to keep us cool. We showed up at the farm at 2:00 to set up. The Parkers had already set out all the tables and chairs for us and had the place looking amazing. All I had to do was decorate and put out the food. For some reason every time I try to have a party outside I have serious issues with wind. The nice breeze that I was enjoying earlier in the day quickly became an annoyance when it kept blowing all the tablecloths off the tables! Thankfully I had remembered the same thing happening last year at the park so I brought a roll of packing tape and started taping those suckers to the tables. It took a few tries, but finally they were all secured. My parents arrived and helped set up the last few decorations and put out the food. Then our guests started arriving!

The kids spent the first bit of the party just running around, playing, swinging, and enjoying the space. We thought that it would be smart to go ahead and eat before we got into the dirt and animals section of the party, so once most people had arrived we ate some farm treats.

Then it was time to feed the animals! Callie reminded the kids of a few safety issues, then took them over to the cow pasture. There were only three cows that I could see, way far off. Callie told the kids that to get the cows to come over they start yelling "Come on girls". Soon there were 20-something kids lined up along the fence calling "Come on girls, come on girls" over and over. At first it didn't seem like anything was happening. Then all of sudden one cow starts moving, then another, and another, and soon there are cows appearing out of nowhere and running across the pasture to the kids. One of the funniest things I've seen! There were probably about 20 cows and a few calves all lined up along the fence, and the kids were throwing their cow food to them.

When the cow food was gone we headed over to the pigs. Caroline had been talking about the pigs ever since we visited the farm to see if we wanted to have their party there. They have several very large pigs, and two different litters of piglets. One litter was only a week old so they stayed penned up, but the four month old pigs got to come out and run around with the kids. They loved it! Some of the kids ran away from the pigs, and some ran after them trying to catch them. Not so shockingly, Matthew was one of the kids running away and Caroline and Lily went right for them.

Next on the agenda was a hayride, with a stop to climb on the tractor on the way over. Matthew of course loved sitting on the tractor and pretending to drive it. We piled all the kids into the hay and the adults sat along the edges of the trailer as we ventured to a farm on the other side of the street. We drove around in the fields and then stopped to feed some chickens! The kids all got a bag of chicken feed, complete with dried worms! Matthew didn't like them, and wouldn't touch them until I assured him that they were dead and weren't going to move. I still think he dumped all the worms on the ground when I wasn't looking.

We rode the hayride back to the farm and all the kids gathered around a giant wooden table to plant seeds! Callie had different types of vegetable and flower seeds for them to choose. Each kid got a small pot and learned how to stick their finger in to the first knuckle, drop in their seeds, and then cover them up. Matthew chose to plant corn and Caroline planted zinnias. We now have about 10 plants in our "table garden" that we actually need to transfer over to our yard. That is one of our summer projects. But, back to the party - now that the dirt and animals section of the party was complete, we had all the kids wash their hands and head into the porch for cake!

Everyone sang to Matthew and Caroline, and then enjoyed some delicious cupcakes with red icing. Most kids looked like they were bleeding from the mouth and their clothes weren't much better. You're welcome parents :) By the time cake was finished, so was the party. Even though we were there until almost seven talking with the Parkers and cleaning up! Our kids had a great time, and we hope that our guests did too!

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